State of the Schools: Supt. Beth Niedermeyer recaps past year, looks ahead in annual address
By Sadie Hunter
For the third straight year, Noblesville Schools Supt. Beth Niedermeyer addressed members and guests of the Noblesville Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon on March 22, giving her State of the Schools address and covering topics from continuous growth to a changing curriculum to workforce development and future projects.
SCHOOL BOARD, ADMINISTRATION, STAFF GROWTH
So far, the 2016-17 school year has brought a couple of changes in the makeup of the school board. Member Jane Barr retired and was replaced with Carl Johnson. The newest member of the board is Brad Howell, who filled the position of Gary Duvall after his death on Jan. 22.
In overall district leadership, Niedermeyer referred to administrative staff as “small but mighty.”
“We continue to run very lean,” she said. “We’ve lost two members, and we haven’t filled those positions yet, but our focus right now is to make sure we have adequate staffing in the buildings. Because of our growth, we want to make sure we have all the teachers to provide the kinds of teaching, services and programs for our students that we need.”
Noblesville Schools employees approximately 1,500. Of that number, there are 92 job classes, more than 650 teachers, 110 food service employees, 105 bus drivers and 79 custodians.
Since her 2016 State of the Schools address, Niedermeyer said the district has grown by approximately 200 students, and the class of 2017 is approximately 200 students smaller than the current freshman class.
“I think one of the things that’s most impressive is we’ve also grown to 55 home languages,” she said. “Of those 55, after English, the top five are Spanish, Punjabi, Vietnamese, Arabic, and we’re tied for the fifth one between Chinese and Russian … As we continue to grow and we look at our free and reduced population changing, our gifted and talented population growing and special education, this is the kind of data that really drives the decisions that we make. One of the challenges that we face is finding interpreters. We want every student and family member to feel welcomed in our community and in our schools.”
Noblesville High School is now the 11th largest high school in the state.
“We’re starting to see our growth slow just a little bit without incoming (kindergarten) classrooms starting to drop, which matches the national demographic pattern,” she said.
The district has said since late last year it will not build an additional elementary school to manage large numbers in its elementary schools. Rather, the district will shift students from Promise Road Elementary to Stony Creek Elementary and from Stony Creek to North Elementary to balance enrollment. The school board approved the rebalancing decision at its March 21 meeting.
CURRICULUM AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
“When we talk about connecting learning with those core classes to the industry, inspiring engineering, biomedical and technology applications, we not only are one of the only districts in the state, but one of the few in the nation to offer K-12 Project Lead the Way,” Niedermeyer said. “I think that’s one of the reasons people come to Noblesville Schools to check out what’s going on.”
In the 2015-16 school year, Noblesville Schools students earned $5.76 million in scholarship money and earned 3,600 dual credits, saving nearly $1 million in college tuition for students and families.
“Our internship program also is still thriving,” Niedermeyer said. “We have 80-plus businesses that students are connected with, and we’ve got some exciting partnerships continuing with Ivy Tech, Hare (Chevrolet) and Riverview (Health).”
Niedermeyer also expressed her excitement in a partnership between fellow superintendents in Hamilton County schools and Ivy Tech’s Hamilton County Campus in Noblesville and Indiana Workforce Development to create the Hamilton County Career Center.
“My understanding is for decades now, we’ve been talking about having the Hamilton County Career Center,” Niedermeyer said. “Well, it’s finally taking shape. There are several components, and Indiana Workforce Development, they’ve been able to collect data and share information on what the workforce demands are for high-interest, high-value and high-wage jobs. These are the four areas: healthcare, IT, manufacturing and construction.”
Niedermeyer said those four areas would be addressed in 2018 and programming would be housed in Ivy Tech.
ON THE HORIZON
“Because (the community) supported the referendum, we’ve been able to add additional staff this year and for next year. We’re adding six new staff members at the high schools because our high school classes are getting larger,” Niedermeyer said. “Funds are secured through 2023. So, no more (operating) referendum until then.”
Dirt has begun moving on the district’s new transportation center adjacent to West Middle School on Hague Road. The projected completion date is October during the district’s fall break.
A new before-and-after school program, Miller Explorers will be added later this year as well. The program will kick off in December.
“We are putting before-and-after daycare under our umbrella,” Niedermeyer said. “Isn’t that exciting to think that we can have continued, seamless instruction for a lengthened time and expanding the day for those who want to participate in Miller Explorers?
“We have lots of great things to celebrate,” Niedermeyer said.
BY THE NUMBERS
- 10,203 – Number of students district wide
- 22% – Students in gifted and talented programs
- 22% – Students who receive free/reduced lunch
- 95% – Graduation rate
- 43% – Students who graduate with honors diplomas
- $5.76M – Scholarship dollars earned in the 2015-16 school year
- 3,694 – Dual high school/college credits earned in the 2015-16 school year
- 2M – Total square feet of building space district wide
- 300+ – Athletic teams, clubs and organizations
- 3.3 – Average GPA for student athletes
- $110,147,581 – 2017 projected budget
- 6,400 – Meals served daily including breakfast and lunch district wide